More motorists caught drug-driving should have their drug addiction on Class A substances assessed in order to prevent further offending, a Conservative MP has urged.
Graham Evans said estimates suggest there are 200 drug-driving related deaths a year in Britain, but added motorists caught offending under the influence of drugs are only sent to receive the necessary healthcare and support they need if they appear in court.
The Weaver Vale MP warned this contrasted with the approach taken with people that commit theft or burglary while on certain Class A drugs, who are required to undergo assessments.
Introducing the second reading of the Drug Driving (Assessment of Drug Misuse) Bill, Mr Evans said a loophole in the law needed to be changed to ensure police can send people caught driving while under the influence of heroin, cocaine or crack cocaine for two assessments.
He explained these would examine a person’s dependency on drugs and seek to find out how they might benefit from treatment.
Former special constable Mr Evans told MPs: “If we can work with the individual or wider psychological, physical or lifestyle problems, as well as their substance misuse we could help prevent further offending.
“However, unless they appear in court there is currently no mechanism to direct drug-drivers towards the necessary healthcare and support services that can help individuals overcome their drug misuse.
“That contrasts with the existing approach to require assessments for other types of drug-related offences such as theft or burglary, which has proven links to Class A drug use.
“So at present a person arrested on suspicion of an offence such as burglary or theft who tests positive for heroin, cocaine or crack cocaine can be compulsory referred to drugsassessment if the arresting officer believes this would be appropriate.
“In contrast, someone who is suspected of drug-driving cannot be similarly required to attend an assessment of their potentially harmful drug abuse.
“This Bill tackles this gap in legislation. It’s about helping to break a cycle of behaviour and doing more to ensure those found driving under the influence of Class A drugs – heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine – receive the appropriate help.”
When he was asked why the Bill did not seek to assess people under the influence of cannabis, Mr Evans said he was looking to deal with drugs usually associated with criminality, which were usually Class A substances.
Comparing the changes to progress on tackling drink-driving, he explained: “Using seat-belts has now become second nature and the attitude of the public towards drinking and driving has been revolutionised – ‘One for the road’ is a phrase that rightly has no place in our more safety-conscious society.
“Because drugs use is now openly part of our society it’s more difficult to address the attitudes of drug-drivers.”
Mr Evans said there was a collective understanding among people to not encourage drivers to drink as it is known it is against the law and would put them, their passengers and others at risk.
He continued: “In an environment where illegal substances are being used a similar collective understanding is not necessarily there.”
Courtesy of Press Association
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